Home   Food and Drink   Article

Christmas: Help Diamond Hampers fight food poverty

Diamond Hampers in Huntingdon makes and donates up to 40 emergency food parcels every day. Help them give local families in need a happier Christmas

Diamond Hampers is working to give families in need a happier Christmas (53254969)
Diamond Hampers is working to give families in need a happier Christmas (53254969)

With 8.4 million people in this country currently struggling to afford to eat - that’s equivalent to the entire population of London - there’s never been a greater need to support UK charities fighting hunger.*

Diamond Hampers in Huntingdon creates and donates up to 40 emergency food hampers every day, as well as stocking affordable food store The Pantry. And, by rescuing fresh fruit and veg which would otherwise be destined for landfill, it’s doing good for the planet, too: to date, Diamond Hampers estimates saving more than 282,000kg of CO2.

Marking its 10th birthday year, Brampton-based agency The Food Marketing Experts is supporting the charity. Says MD Vhari Russell: “This is a small organisation making a big difference: since launch, it’s provided more than 215,000 meals to vulnerable families and individuals, while saving 276 tonnes of food, and counting, from landfill. We couldn’t be more proud to support it, and we’d ask anyone who feels they can to support it too.” As part of its support, The Food Marketing Experts has created a series of simple yet nutritious and delicious recipe cards for Diamond (find some winter warmers to try below).

Founder Lianne Simpson launched Diamond Hampers to address “the dignity gap” in accessing food banks: a delivered hamper, she explains, made “the idea of accepting the need for help more approachable and dignified”. Originally running the venture from home, it soon outgrew the space and Lianne’s time, and so a team of volunteers followed, along with The Pantry, the charity’s affordable food store and HQ. Next is The Attic, an affordable living shop. Adds Lianne: “Longer term solutions and dignity and independence are really at the heart of what we want to achieve.”

Christmas can be a financial and emotional pinch-point; this year more than ever, says Lianne. “This year has seen such a huge increase in people accessing support with so many financial cuts being made. People are genuinely faced with the conundrum of ‘heating or eating’. That coupled with the pressures that face parents every year around gift buying for their children means the need for food soars.”

To find out how you can support Diamond Hampers, visit diamondhampers.org, email diamondhampers@yahoo.com, call (01480) 453249 or call into The Pantry on All Saints’ Passage, Huntingdon.

Figure: fareshare.org.uk

Easy Beef Bolognese

The Food Marketing Experts x Diamond Hampers (53253878)
The Food Marketing Experts x Diamond Hampers (53253878)


1 tbsp olive oil (any oil will do)

3 onions, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

3 sticks of celery, finely chopped,

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

500g beef mince

2 400g tins plum tomatoes

Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish and add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Give it a good stir then turn down on to the lowest heat possible and cook for 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have reduced and softened.

Turn the heat up to high and add the beef mince, stir everything together and cook for a few minutes until the beef has browned.

Add the tinned tomatoes then swill out the tins with water and add half a tinful to the pan. Stir together, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of your spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the heat back down to low and cook for 45 minutes until the sauce has thickened and turned deep red. Season with further salt and pepper, if needed.

TIPS: Simply swap the beef mince for Quorn or lentils for a vegetarian option. If you have any other vegetables that need using up, such as courgette, tomatoes or peppers, add them in with the vegetables at the start and cook as above.

Chicken And Leek Pie

The Food Marketing Experts x Diamond Hampers (53253881)
The Food Marketing Experts x Diamond Hampers (53253881)


2 tbsp olive oil (any other oil will do)

500g chicken breast, diced

200g button mushrooms, halved

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 medium leeks, sliced

2 400g tins cream of chicken soup

375g ready-made shortcrust pastry

1 egg, beaten, or 2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken over a medium/high heat for 5-10 minutes until golden.

Use a spoon to scoop out the chicken onto a plate, keeping any juices in the saucepan, then add the mushrooms to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low and cook the mushrooms for 4-5 minutes or until all of the water from the mushrooms has cooked away and they're starting to brown.

Add a splash more oil if the pan is looking dry, then tip in the onion and cook for 3 minutes before adding the leeks.

Season with salt and pepper, then cook the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until they have softened and the mixture has a slightly golden colour.

Add the chicken back to the pan then pour in the soup and bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes then taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper as needed.

Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to cool and preheat the oven to 200C.

Oonce the filling has cooled, tip it into a 28cm pie dish (any dish with a lip will do).

Roll the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin, ensuring that it is at least 2cm larger than the pie dish all the way round.

Brush the rim of the dish with egg or milk then carefully lay the pastry over the top.

Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pastry and stick it to the dish.

Brush the pastry all over with egg or milk, then use a sharp knife to make a hole in the centre of the pie to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

TIP: If you would like to prepare this in advance, make the pie as above but don’t glaze with egg or milk. Cover in cling film then refrigerate for up to 2 days. when you are ready to cook, brush with egg or milk and cook for an extra 10 minutes or until golden and the filling is piping hot.

Read more

More by this author